August 13, 2009 Aish Kodesh Class, Parshat Re-eh, Pegliash of Giva
We are going to learn the secret of drawing circles. Yom Kippur by itself is not much, nothing much happens unless one takes it in context. Amalak cannot attack a circle because there are no stragglers. (trf: you do not get anywhere if you go in circles.)
Parshat Re-eh starts SEE, I AM SETTING BEFORE YOU A BLESSING AND A CURSE. I AM GIVING IT TO YOU AS A GIFT. (????) I AM LAYING IT OUT IN FRONT OF YOU. What is circular about this? A straight line is a place where Amalak comes in. Amalak says that a blessing is good and a curse is bad. The Ishpitzer Rebbe says that we do not know what we are looking at. A curse makes you examine your actions and become focused; mostly we are not focused. Your presence is contracted. Example: In the Warsaw Ghetto we are contracted very, very much, but the Warsaw Ghetto also produced the Aish Kodesh. Example: When we are fighting the aftermath of a stroke, we are focused on saying each word. Is this a curse? Or is this a blessing? It is both.
HaShem is the point in the middle: Ohr Penini. HaShem is the circumference of the circle: Ohr HaMakef.
We have three stories about people who were kicked out of the party. (trf: Sometimes we are simultaneously acting out what we are talking about.) Kamptza was kicked out of the party, Moshe was not allowed into the Promised Land, and the Aish Kodesh chose to stay in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Moshe loved the desert and G*d told him to return to Egypt, which was full of sexual depravity, kappos, slavery, informers. The victim is not guilt-free; we are responsible for everything that happens to us.
After we have the point of teshuva, our job is to broaden the point by starting new neuropathways. The circle is feminine (womb) and the point is masculine (sperm). The female makes a home (circle) and the male brings in the Torah (point).
See yourself at the balance point as if your next act will change the world.
Have a conversation with conflicting parts of yourself and find it in the parsha. The Aish Kodesh is looking for a transformation in each parshat, which consists of doing teshuva and putting your world back into balance. That is what these stories are for. The Aish Kodesh buried and dug up his manuscript every week because he didnât know if he would live through the week. He wrote the last chapter in July of 1943, but he dug it up again in 1944 and added a note in Eikev.
In the blessing there is a temptation to say I did this. This spiritual arrogance leaves G*d out of the picture. In the curse, G*d just isnât there. Yochananâs son was Shimon ben Yochanan, who wrote the Zohar, and his son, Eliezer ben Shimon, was the subject of a story which involved this spiritual arrogance. He was returning on a spiritual high after a year of teaching and he saw a man whose ugliness reflected his being totally devoid of introspection. Rabbi Eliezer said to him: is everyone in your town as ugly as you are? The man responded: complain to the One who created me. When they reached the town, the man told the people that Eliezer was not so great, he would not even say hello to me. Eliezer did teshuva and asked for his forgiveness and the man, who turned out to be Eliahu, said he would forgive him not on his merit, but on the merit of the townspeople. Eliezer teaches that your Torah has to be like a soft reed, not a hard wood. This is why we use a soft reed to write the Torah. The reed grows in water (Torah). Torah softens you up. If you do this, your Yom Kippur has 52 facets which make up a mosaic, one from each parshat. Additionally, Shabbos is a mosaic of the seven days of the week. Beggars are never turned away from a wedding feast because they might be Eliahu.
Story: the king asked his beloved friend to prepare a meal. The friend prepared a normal bed and a normal meal and then was ashamed when the king arrived with all his wonderful things. The king told him that he would throw out all of his vessels because he loves him so much and would demonstrate his love by using only his things. This is what Tisha bâAv means to the Aish Kodesh. I dwelled in the Temple but now I want to dwell in your heart. The Talmud replaced the Temple. Yochanan ben Zakai asked for one small yeshiva to start writing the Talmud. Akiva was angry because he could have asked for Jerusalem. Yochanan is from the school of small steps, Akiva pushed the end and followed a false messiah. (trf: Did the king bomb his friendâs house and kill his children too? This analogy has one or two sticking points.)
Recommended: Lies My Father Told Me, The Apprenticeship of Dudi Kravitz, a Mark Diamond film about German Jews who moved to Washington Heights
Abel was the first Levite. He looked down on Cain because he was a farmer. Abel was guilty of vanity and spiritual arrogance. We have to give the pride of our accomplishments back to G*d. [TRF: This is the blessing and curse. Eliezer was rebuked by Eliahu at the moment when he was on a spiritual high from his year of successful teaching. He needed a push to let go of the inevitable spiritual arrogance. The rebuke he received was really a gift.]
We will be discussing three stories: Kampsa and Bar Kampsa (the worst, ending in the destruction of the Temple), Moshe (the best), and the Pegliash of Giva (in between).
The Pegliash of Giva is a tough story that leads to an amazing transformation. NO KING IN ISRAEL means that the people were not accepting the Kingship of Heaven. The Levites separated from the others when Paro had that first day of volunteer work that resulted in slavery, and they did not go along with the Golden Calf, nor did they stop the others from doing it. Because of this Levites had no land and were dependent upon the other tribes for parnasa.
The concubine entered into abusive relationships, with her father, her lover and her husband. Regarding the men in the story: if you are controlling with your money, you will be controlling with the people you love. The father stuffs the husband. This story is found at the end of the book of Judges and is always read at this time of year. For further details, please see previous classes.
Nachamul means comfort, regret.
This story ends with peace offerings. The Jewish people are supposed to be simultaneously insiders and outsiders, a light unto the nations. Benjamin women chose their own husbands, which was a reversal. They formed circles. Your broken relationships and grudges can cause great damage. We use this in Elul, which starts next week, to say forgive me. This story is the alarm clock. Elul stands for I am my beloved and my beloved is to me. Forgiveness is a dance of repair.
Circle drawing is about removing the concealment so we can see the blessing and curse coming from the same place. Our job this time of year is to sweeten our judgments of each other.
Every time you make amends you risk humiliation. The lion does not want to cry in front of the foxes. Yom Kippur is the day of our wedding, the day we can run away from the blockage of our family and start with a clean slate.
Rabbi Henoch Dov teaches in Denver, Colorado. You can contact him through his web page, www.RabbiHenochDov.com or via email email@example.com.